Flagship Convention Spaces Bet On Retail

Skift Take

Despite the setbacks caused by the Covid pandemic, destinations across the globe are showcasing impressive new multipurpose venues to attract international events and conventions.

Photo credit: China National Convention Center, Phase 2 (CNCC-II) Lunch Hall

Event industry trade shows such as IMEX in Frankfurt present a unique opportunity to showcase new venue openings. Politicians and policymakers are keen to discuss their visions for attracting delegates to their destinations, while planners seek out the latest and most impressive new venues.

Convention centers represent massive investment and are often publicly funded by cities looking to reap the direct and indirect financial benefits of business travel to a destination. The Covid pandemic forced destinations to question their long term plans for venue development, but on the whole they appear to be back on track. With destinations like China still completely close to international travel, there are question marks over the feasibility of these projects, at least in the short term.

Here are nine of the most interesting venue projects currently being showcased.

China National Convention Center, Phase 2 (CNCC-II) in Beijing, China

This visually impressive China National Convention Center, Phase 2 (CNCC-II) is scheduled to open its doors in 2024. It is located in the Beijing Olympic Green Area and served as the media center for the recently concluded Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. Planned innovations include robots that serve meals and undertake cleaning.

The (CNCC-II) will feature 4.5 million square feet of total floor space and 2.9 million square feet of event space. It is expected to host events for up to 20,000 attendees and exhibition events for 50,000. 

The center complex will feature office buildings, boutique retail outlets, and two 5-star international hotels with 953 rooms. A total of 10,000 hotel rooms will be available within a 3-mile radius.

Exhibition World Bahrain

Exhibition World Bahrain is scheduled to open in late 2022 when it will become the largest in the Middle East. It will feature over 1 million square feet of exhibition space. Its main hall will seat up to 4,000 delegates with 95 meeting rooms, 14 offices and 3 Majlis available. The venue will also feature 25 restaurants, cafes and retail outlets.

The convention center is being developed and will be managed by venue management company ASM Global, which manages 350 buildings globally including multiple convention centers across both the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions.

Queen Sirikit National Convention Center (QSNCC) in Bangkok, Thailand

The expanded Queen Sirikit National Convention Center (QSNCC) is scheduled to open in September. The center has been completely rebuilt to five times the size of the previous venue, now offering more than 3 million square feet of total floor space including almost 850,000 square feet of exhibition space. 

The developers expect a busy fourth quarter with multiple regional summits and trade shows already announced. A total of 13 million visitors are predicted for its first year of operation and 130 events are currently being negotiated.

The QSNCC will be the first convention center in Bangkok to receive the “Leadership in Energy and Environment Design” (LEED) silver certification. The site includes the “Benjakitti Forest Park” and is connected to Bangkok’s Active Lifestyle Mall, a concept retail space designed to attract health and fitness enthusiasts, urban workers and families. 

Dallas Convention Center in Dallas, Texas

The Dallas city council has approved plans for a new 2.5-million-square-foot convention center located adjacent to the current Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas. The new center will feature 800,000 square feet of exhibit space and a 100,000-square-foot ballroom. Construction on the $2 billion center is expected to begin in 2024 with completion in 2028.

Silk Road Samarkand in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

The Silk Road Samarkand is a multifunctional tourist complex covering over 260 hectares opening in the second half of 2022. It will feature a convention center with capacity for over 3,000 delegates along with hotels, public spaces and retail.

Approximately 1,200 hotel rooms across eighth properties will be available with the Regency Amir Temur hotel offering the most luxurious option. The hotel will be the first in Central Asia to be part of Leading Hotels of the World.

The complex will also feature a medical cluster made up of four boutique hotels specializing in medical services.

Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre in ​​Christchurch, New Zealand

The Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre welcomed its first conference in May with eight international conventions booked for 2022. 

The venue features over 300,000 square feet of floor space, a 1,400-seat tiered auditorium and can accommodate up to 3,600 delegates for exhibitions. 

This brand new venue replaces the Christchurch Convention Centre which was demolished in 2012 as a result of damages caused by the 2011 earthquake.

Two more convention spaces will soon be opening in New Zealand. Tākina, the new 1,600-capacity Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre is opening in 2023. Despite the large fire in 2019, construction continues on the New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC) in Auckland. Once completed it will be the largest venue in New Zealand with 350,000 square feet of total floor space and a capacity of 4,000 delegates.

Sava Center in Belgrade, Serbia

The Sava Center, the largest convention center in Serbia, is reopening in November 2023 following two years of reconstruction made possible by a significant investment from Delta Holding. 

The modern structure will feature over 1 million square feet of total floor space and boasts an auditorium with seating for 3,800 delegates and 45 additional meeting rooms. The center is connected to the 416-room Crowne Plaza Belgrade.

Ariana in Vienna, Austria

Vienna has a new mid-sized venue in the shape of Ariana. The modern venue features 14,000 square feet of floor space and can host up to 830 delegates.

Dublin Royal Convention Centre in Dublin, Ireland

Set to open its doors in October the Dublin Royal Convention Centre is a new venue that will feature over 12,000 square feet of floor space and can host up to 800 delegates. The connected Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Dublin has 234 bedrooms available.